Mixed bag: A review of The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo

Aug 15, 2020

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Editor’s note: During the COVID-19 crisis, our team has temporarily ceased taking review trips. Instead, we have been publishing a selection of our most popular reviews from the past year. However, we have resumed the publication of new, previously unpublished flighthotel and lounge reviews, from trips taken before the lockdown, like this one. We hope this will help you choose once we’re all ready to start booking trips again.

After a fantastic two-night stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto, a friend and I made the Shinkansen (bullet train) journey north to its sister hotel in Tokyo.

The Kyoto property sported a walkable location, outgoing staff and thoughtful design, but The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo offered … none of those things — yet a stay comes with the same steep redemption rate of 70,000 to 100,000 Bonvoy points per night.

In This Post

Booking

Paid stays at The Ritz-Carlton can be booked for as little as $530, before tax, depending on the date, with awards for this Category 8 hotel ranging from 70,000 to 100,000 points per night, worth between £490 and £700, based on TPG U.K.’s valuations.

Like the Kyoto property, the Tokyo hotel is a member of Amex’s Fine Hotels & Resorts programme. If you book an eligible rate through Amex, you’ll get complimentary breakfast, a room upgrade, early check-in and late check-out, and a $100 property credit when paying with The Platinum Card from American Express.

As with my stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto, I booked nearly a year in advance, allowing me to lock in the old 60,000-point rate. With the nightly rate approaching $2,000 during part of my stay because of the Rugby World Cup, the redemption was a relative steal — especially when paired with Marriott’s fifth night free.

Location

The Ritz-Carlton is located in Tokyo Midtown, a large shopping and office complex in the upscale Roppongi neighbourhood. There are several subway lines within walking distance and a taxi stand right out front.

I prefer to be in a neighbourhood with more restaurants and attractions, so if you’re looking to explore the city on foot, the Park Hyatt near Shinjuku or the Conrad near Ginza might be better picks.

Check-in

You can enter the building that houses the hotel from the street or the attached shopping mall, but the lobby is on the 45th floor — a peculiar, but common, arrangement in Tokyo.

After a speedy elevator ride, we entered the large lobby space, which is where you’ll find the check-in desks, along with several dining options, including The Lobby Lounge, The Bar and the property’s Michelin-starred French restaurant, Azure 45.

Our room wasn’t ready when we arrived, but we didn’t have to wait long. I asked about an upgrade to the Club Floor, but it isn’t available as an elite perk, unfortunately. The agent offered an upgrade for about $180 per night, which didn’t seem worth it, given that we were visiting one of the best food cities in the world.

I did receive many perks as a Titanium member, including:

  • A 20% dining discount at select restaurants
  • 75% bonus points
  • 1,000 points
  • A complimentary “heat experience” at the spa
  • 4 p.m. checkout
  • A 10% merchandise discount
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
  • Free breakfast for two kids aged 12 or below, when accompanying paying parents

Additionally, elite members can choose one of the following welcome gifts:

  • Local seasonal fruit
  • Daily in-room bakery basket and hot beverage
  • 20% breakfast discount, 30% off lunch or dinner at Towers
  • 3,000 yen (about $28) minibar discount per stay
  • 2,000 yen (about $18.50) cafe and deli credit per stay
  • 15% spa discount
  • 1 ticket to teamLab Borderless
  • Complimentary “aroma butler” (diffuser) in the room

Since we were staying five nights and breakfast was not included, I opted for the daily bakery basket and hot beverage.

As I quickly realized, though, the majesty of the lobby quickly faded after leaving the 45th floor.

Room

I booked a base Deluxe Room with two double beds. It was spacious but the room was dated — a far cry from the accommodations in Kyoto.

It was comfortable and bright, especially on a sunny day, but the decor needed refreshing.

I did love how large the room was — there was plenty of space to move around.

The bathroom was huge as well — quite possibly one of the largest I’ve encountered in a base hotel room.

It sported two separate vanities, a separate shower and tub, and a standalone water closet.

As at the Kyoto hotel, the Ritz in Tokyo offered all of the essentials, and then some. I especially appreciated the foamy shaving cream.

There was a large closet, along with a robe, an extra pillow and blanket — with more available via the housekeeping staff.

Meanwhile, the minibar was located just across from the bathroom, by the main entrance.

Food and beverage

We had plenty of amazing food options to explore throughout Tokyo — and there was a 7-11 within walking distance — so the only food and beverage items I tried were my selected amenity, the daily bakery basket and hot beverage.

We each ordered coffee every day, which was delivered along with three pieces of fruit and three pastries each morning. It was hardly dependable, though. Some days it would arrive shortly after I called to request it, but one morning it took a full hour and required a follow-up call. Not ideal for a top Bonvoy hotel.

There was also a well-stocked minibar, of course, along with in-room coffee and tea.

The minibar fridge was loaded with the essentials, including wine, beer and liquor minis.

On our first afternoon, we visited The Lobby Lounge while waiting for our room to be ready.

As I figured, the food was expensive, but I also expected it to be exceptional. It was not — my 1,900 yen (about £14) “truffle fries” lacked any truffle flavour and were absurdly overpriced.

I also had high hopes for the 2,800-yen (£20) Old Fashioned but it had very little liquor and most of the glass was taken up by an oversized ice cube.

Amenities

Besides the various (pricey) restaurants, The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo features a typical suite of five-star city hotel amenities, including a large indoor pool with fantastic skyline views.

The gym was large and well-stocked with cardio equipment and weights.

Service

In general, I was underwhelmed by the service. The staff seemed less than thrilled to see us when we asked for a table at The Lobby Lounge, and in the morning our complimentary coffee and bakery basket didn’t always arrive quickly, as I mentioned above.

I was tremendously impressed by one team: the spa staff. I left my iPad in the gym and the staff was so happy when I returned to pick it up. It was returned to me, delicately protected by bubble wrap, and two employees walked me to the elevator, thanked me several times for coming to pick it up and gave me a huge bow as the elevator door closed.

Overall impression

Would I book another stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo? Certainly, if the price were right, but I’d never consider spending $1,000 per night or redeeming 100,000 points here — at least not before a major renovation and service overhaul.

At my pre-devaluation rate of 60,000 points and with the fifth night free, it felt like a deal during the Rugby World Cup. But in general, I’m much more likely to return to the Conrad or Park Hyatt.

All photos by the author.

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